Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Turning the Field Over to the Youngsters

Several years ago, over at UFO Iconoclasts, now known as UFO Conjectures, Rich Reynolds thought it was time for all us geezers to get out of UFO research and turn the field over to the youngsters. His theory seemed to be that we’d gotten too set in our ways, weren’t coming up with anything new and had had seventy years to find a solution and we hadn’t done it. The young blood, not locked into any one theory, would think in new and innovative ways, progressing rapidly if we’d just get out of their way.

When I was studying for a Ph.D., one of the things we learned was to make a literature search of our topic to ensure that we weren’t merely covering old ground. The literature search would provide a springboard into new arenas and new thought so that we could build on what had gone on before rather than just duplicating research. We could advance the field, the theory, and the thought rather than just repeat the same mistakes that had been made before. We could actually contribute something new.

All well and good but in the last year, as I see more and more of what the new blood has brought to the field and the advances they have allegedly made, I suspect that Rich was wrong. The new blood and the younger researchers are doing nothing to advance the work. They are just grabbing onto the same nonsense that has distracted and derailed us. They don’t bother with any sort of literature search that today, with the Internet, is so much simpler. They just keep filling the air with the same tired rhetoric, learning nothing from the mistakes we made or advancing thought at all. It is a case of the same old same old.

You want an example?

Sure. I’ve been engaged in a discussion of the MJ-12 Manual SOM 1-01. It suffers from the same problem of all the other MJ-12 documents which is a lack of provenance, but that seems to make no difference to many. We don’t know where it came from, we don’t know what agency is responsible for it (though the logo on the front seems to suggest the War Department which disappeared in 1947 when the Department of Defense was created) and there seem to be anachronisms in it. It was suggested that wreckage from crashed and recovered UFOs be sent to Area 51/S-4. The trouble is that when the manual was allegedly written, there were no facilities at Groom Lake as it was known then to house the wreckage and no personnel available to exploit it if something did arrive.

One of those believing the manual was real, provided a link to a declassified document to prove that the term, Area 51, was in use because it appeared on maps of that part of Nevada. But that source also described exactly what was there in April 1955. It said, “On 12 April 1955 Richard Bissell and Col. Osmund Ritland... flew over Nevada with Kelly Johnson in small Beechcraft plane piloted by Lockheed's chief test pilot, Tony LeVier. They spotted what appeared to be an airstrip by a salt flat known as Groom Lake, near the northeast corner of the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Nevada Proving Ground. After debating about landing on the old strip, LeVier set the plane down on the lakebed, and all four walked over to examine the strip. The facility had been used during World War II as an aerial gunnery range for Army Air Corps pilots. From the air the strip appeared to be paved, but on closer inspection it turned out to have originally been fashioned from compacted earth that had turned to ankle-deep dust after more than a decade of disuse. If LeVier had attempted to land on the airstrip, the plane would probably had nosed over when the wheels sank into the loose soil, killing or injuring all of the key figures in the U-2 project.”

What was the response? Well, maybe there were facilities in the area they didn’t see. Maybe there was a secret, underground AEC base. Maybe the CIA historian who wrote that section lied about it to keep the secret safe. No evidence of any of that. Just some wild speculation to reject the evidence that there was nothing there to be seen by those who had actually been there.

That same document also said, “Bissel and his colleagues all agreed that Groom Lake would make an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots. Upon returning to Washington, Bissell discovered that Groom Lake was not part of the AEC proving ground. After consulting with Dulles, Bissell and Miller asked the Atomic Energy Commission to add the Groom Lake area to its real estate holdings in Nevada. AEC Chairman Adm. Lewis Strauss readily agreed, and President Eisenhower also approved the addition of this strip of wasteland, known by its map designation as Area 51 to the Nevada Test Site.”

This would seem to be a fatal flaw in a document that has no provenance. We have a description of the area that would eliminate it as a site to send anything at that time. There was nothing there except an invisible facility. Doesn’t this one point actually make defense of the manual a very shaky proposition? Unless something else, with a proper provenance can be found, shouldn’t this guide our thinking?

Is there more?

Carlos Allende/Carl Allen
Well yes. We’ve just had another example which is the Allende Letters. I’m not going through that again but will say there is nothing left to this myth. Allende, who was born Carl Allen said that he had made it all up. Robert Goerman found Allen’s family and they said that Allen made up things like this all the time. Some of the problems discussed in the annotations in the book sent to the Navy have since been solved. Here I think of the disappearance of the Stardust, a BOAC passenger plane that disappeared allegedly in sight of the airport at Santiago, Chile. A decade and a half ago, the wreckage was found, providing us with a fatal flaw in those notations. For more details see:


How about the Bermuda Triangle?

Back in the early 1970s, I believed there was something mysterious going on in the Bermuda Triangle. The list of ships and planes that had been lost in the area seemed to be overwhelming and nearly every one of them was gone without a trace. I remember being at a conference in Denver, Colorado, when Jim Lorenzen explained that it was truly mysterious because there was a case in which five Navy aircraft flying formation all disappeared. There was just no way that mechanical failure, weather, or about anything else could explain that disappearance.

440th C-119 like this one lost
in the Bermuda Triangle.
In the mid-1970s I spotted a book, The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved by David Lawrence Kusche. I bought it thinking that I needed to understand what the skeptics were saying if I was going to be able to intelligently refute their arguments. But the book was filled with documentation and explanations that made perfect sense. Couple that to my talking with members of the 440th Tactical Airlift Wing who had lost a plane in the Triangle and who told me the plane had crashed and the solution seemed confirmed. Not only that, they had bits of the wreckage to prove it… one of the mysteries solved to my satisfaction without having to read Kusche’s book. See:

Oh, and in the Navy records concerning the disappearance of Flight 19, we learn that five aircraft disappear when the flight leader orders it. He was hopelessly lost, flying around in circles and ignoring the advice from the rest of the squadron. Finally he said, “When the first man is down to ten gallons, we’ll all ditch together.” And that explains how five aircraft disappear at once.

I could go on, but need I? Sure there are those of us who are older that still subscribe to these things and there are those who are younger who do not. We older folks have learned ways of conducting the research that does provide us with some answers. Those younger folks are sometimes too willing to accept what they are told as the truth without asking some additional questions. I learned that lesson after believing some of those who told wonderful stories of their involvement in the Roswell UFO crash and reading Stolen Valor about all these people, men and women, lying about their military service, especially that in Vietnam. In other words, many of those telling us stories about the Roswell crash were lying about it and this included some of the most important witnesses.

Where does all this leave us? It would seem that we, of the old guard (aka old school) could provide some useful tips on conducting these investigations if those who are new school would bother to listen. This is where Rich slipped off the rails… we should be working together, those of us from years gone by providing information and guidance, and those who are relatively young providing new ways of looking at UFOs and providing new theories on what is going on. One group shouldn’t be forced out by another and all should be open to reevaluating what we sometimes think of as the proof positive. There is room for everyone if we’re all smart enough to recognize the abilities and experience of each other.


RRRGroup said...

But Kevin,, we oldies (geezers) are cob-webby, and one can see this by how UFO tales are regurgitated, not you so much in your recent incarnation as a revivalist using corrective material to illuminate old (and sometimes) new sightings.

But take a look at how the Socorro event was handled by those MUFON fellows you interviewed for one of your recent broadcasts. They went over the Zamora sighting, rehashing it using the moldy Stanford account.

A breath of Millennial air would cleanse the story (the 1964 incident) of its mildew.

The problem is that Millennials don't give a damn, about UFOs (or anything else perhaps).

But if one can find a younger set who find UFOs intriguing, and supply them with all the extant information about a UFO sighting (old or new), we might get a fresh take on the sighting, within the context of what new information about reality is present in the current zeitgeist.

I am so sick of geezers holding forth with information they garnered way back when, and shellacked it for presentation here at your blog and elsewhere.

The wisdom of elders is missing in the UFO community. There is no wisdom, just recapping of fetid thinking from a past that was fraught with error and hubris.

I know none of us want to get old or think we're old ,but we are and so is our approach to the UFO phenomenon.

We can't step aside, I agree. There is no one to supplant us. UFOs and ufology are mummified, as you, yourself, noted not too long ago. And younger people hate mummies, many preferring zombies, which is what the UFO community consists of nowadays.


KRandle said...

Rich -

The point was that some of the youngsters out there were simply not doing any new investigations but were taking what had been published before as the gospel. I'm merely saying that we all have something to contribute so that we shouldn't reject information because it came from one of us geezers or that it has been postulated by someone who has just entered into the UFO arena... only that we must guard against those who will defend the indefensible regardless of facts and you know as well as I who some of those people are.

purrlgurrl said...

Puhleez. The "youngsters" of Ufology are middle aged or rapidly approaching it - yes, younger than the grizzled oldsters that are going to begin dying off in droves soon, but hardly "young".

Millennials (the generation that came of age after the turn of the 21st century) are conspicuous in their absence when it comes to Ufology.

Absent some spectacular event that captures the imagination of Millennials (forget about disclosure, it's an empty pipe dream meant to keep Steve Bassett from needing to find a real job), Ufology will likely die off along with the last survivors the 20th century.

Don Maor said...

Kevin argued:
"What was the response? Well, maybe there were facilities in the area they didn’t see. Maybe there was a secret, underground AEC base. Maybe the CIA historian who wrote that section lied about it to keep the secret safe. No evidence of any of that. Just some wild speculation to reject the evidence that there was nothing there to be seen by those who had actually been there."

Kevin, this is not about being young or old, etc. The idea of facilities in Area 51, starting from 1951, has been proposed by Robert and Ryan Wood, both senior researchers just like you. They found a newspaper article from 1951 mentioning a large mysterious construction in the Nevada desert. They write in their website that they indeed have more evidence to year 1951. You just cannot expect the CIA to tell the whole story. The link you provided (which I provided first in a previous blog-thread) mentions that the base was ready in three months after those guys supposedly flew for the first time over Area 51. In Wikipedia it is written that:

"In a little over three months, the base consisted of a single, paved runway, three hangars, a control tower, and rudimentary accommodations for test personnel. The base's few amenities included a movie theatre and volleyball court. Additionally, there was a mess hall, several water wells, and fuel storage tanks."

To what we can say: Really? In three months? Hard to believe for a construction in the middle of the desert, but maybe the construction contractor had some help from a nearby facility.

Another indication pointing that there might be previous facilities than the 1955 base constructed by CIA, One source (book) mentions that the Groom Lake base was also called "Site II". So then, what about "Site I"? When was it defined or constructed? A lot of things we don't know. UFO researchers, young and old, should be researching in the origins of Area 51.

Neal Foy said...

purrlgurrl blurted:

"Absent some spectacular event that captures the imagination of Millennials (forget about disclosure, it's an empty pipe dream meant to keep Steve Bassett from needing to find a real job), Ufology will likely die off along with the last survivors the 20th century."

Sorry gurrl but there will always be people who are curious, so be prepared to go to UFO sites and spread your foolishness for quite some time now.

There are younger investigators interviewing witnesses from more recent cases who are doing a good job. Why the old guys insist on dead people testimony I can't figure out.

Tim McCauley said...

Point of order. I have to say, I completely disagree with many of the comments suggesting that Millennials don't care about or understand UFO phenomena and history. My experience, admittedly as a *40-something* researcher of UFOs and related anomalous phenomena, is that they are interested and engaged but not in ways and places the "old guard" are familiar with. They don't necessarily go to MUFON symposia, join organizations, or report to NUFORC and Peter Davenport, though these sources are known and discussed, often at length, among Millennials.

This new cadre are researching, being guided, and hanging out mostly online at websites like Reddit (r/UFOs, r/UAP), the Black Vault, Above Top Secret, and other discussion forums, and have been following excellent blogs such as this and Dr. Mike Swords' The Big Study.

On the whole, they know their UFO history, have read the classics, are familiar with the cases, are following the news, and have been looking to the skies for answers. Above all, they have been having UFO experiences of their own and have their own questions and unique perspectives to add to the field.

Let's take r/UFOs, a smaller subReddit dedicated to the subject with over 55,000 members, as an example. I will allow that while many of the members seem to be well-researched critical thinkers, many of them could benefit from the guidance of the old guard. This might take the form of a one time AMA (Ask Me Anything) post, or a dedicated presence at r/UFOs as a subreddit member, posting and commenting with masses.

My guess, though it would not make me happy, is that this step is a bridge too far for many of the old guard, who are far too entrenched in their own studies and UFO occupations. My hope is that I am wrong. It might interest the readers to know that I was discouraged from focusing my academic energy on this subject, and from some pretty big thinkers in the field, who are still around. I had my own experiences, however, and was unable to drop the subject completely. At this point, I content myself with watching the sideshow of UFOlogy, guiding others on these subreddits, and making the occasional blog comment.

I still count myself as one of those "youngsters", as I encounter and relate to them every day. I am not a known quantity in traditional UFOlogy, I have not yet written any books (my field is anthropology, BTW) and I haven't been a member of MUFON or attended a symposium or other UFO event in more than a decade. But I am interested, willing to learn more, and count myself as a critical thinker of these phenomena.

cda said...

Don wrote:

"To what we can say: Really? In three months? Hard to believe for a construction in the middle of the desert, but maybe the construction contractor had some help from a nearby facility."

Perhaps the contractor had some help from captured ETs; i.e. the ones still alive after the Roswell crash. Just think of the vast knowledge and technical abilities they would have brought to the building of Area 51. Site I was obviously named after the Foster Ranch crash site, site II after the San Agustin crash site.

KRandle said...

All -

In The Government UFO Files, in the chapter dealing with the FBI, I mentioned that an agent had attended a UFO conference held at the Phipps Auditorium in Denver, which is why this document caught my eye. The relevance here is the agent's report on that April 17, 1960, said, that the audience was "comprised of a majority of older individuals and also a mkajority of the audience was female."

The point is that UFOs seem to have appealed to older people though it could mean that an older audience has more disposible income and the time to engage in this sort of thing... Or, it could mean that the audience, there to listen to George van Tassel just had a greater interest in his message that the UFOs would help us through the trying time feeled with fears of atomic war and deteriorating relations among the various people of the world.

Anyway, I thought it interesting that the audience there skewed older as it seems to do today which doesn't address the issue of who is interested in UFOs, only who can afford to attend these things... and the younger group might just be accessing the information about UFOs as they do information about everything else.

But the real point of my post was that we all can benefit from that which everyone brings to the table. We all must realise that there is the possiblity that we have been wrong and that we all must follow the evidence as opposed to our belief structure.

ufonalyzer said...

I agree with Kevin's post. The last few mufon meetings that I went to had no one below the age of 40, or so it appeared to me. I also agree that those few of the younger generation who may be interested in UFOs are research internet hits which simply are repeats of older cases. Also, there appears to be a couple of trends now which I dislike: one is an apparent willingness of the "young" to want embrace paranormal and other fringe explanations of UFOs, and the second, which I see a lot, particularly on RRR's UFO Conjectures website, are repeated attempts to give psychological explanations for the whole phenomenon.

purrlgurrl said...

Ufology is dying (explaining MUFON's need to rebrand itself), but it won't go with a whimper. A lot of true believers will continue shrieking their nonsense until the bitter end.

You want to gauge Millennial interest? Go to the average UFO conference and then go to an average game or comic book con. Count the number of people who show up and note their ages. Ufology loses . . . over and over again. My niece organizes and runs an annual gamer con in the Middle West (hardly thought to be a hot bed for tech nerds). The regular attendance always numbers in the thousands and the demo is primarily 20 to 40 year-olds.

Don't kid yourselves about this age group's level of interest in UFOs.

tom livesey said...

Surely it is the failure of the field to find any consensus or definitive result after 70 odd years that is largely to blame? That is a long time for a subject to go round and round in circles for, pun intended. Can anyone here even agree on what the established questions might be going forward, if we are to go forward? There is no consistent legacy really on which to build. No surprise really that the younger generation are at square one. We are all still at square one! The people of the Soviet Union tried a different way of life for 70 odd years too. Not many people coming forward to give that another go either. I mean the whole thing must seem Quixotic. Now the nut of the issue: the lack of institutional support for such research doesn't help. 70 years plus, do we even have an agreed canon of books to gather round? An earlier post here suggests not! Let alone then is there an agreed critical apparatus to parallel said canon. Instead of focussing on disclosure we should focus on building an institution, with faculty (old guard), a canon, and a critical apparatus. All religions have to settle down and build a temple at some point, all disciplines a library or academy. Maybe now is the time. Then let's see what happens.

Tim M. said...

This comment by Tom L. is closer to the bone of it all. We aren't in an official academic mode with UFOlogy. We need to be, going forward.

Craig McDaniel said...

Hi Kevin,

I agree with your points about the old timers and the new millennia's taking a role in UFO research. Interestingly, my profession of online sweepstakes is very similar in that I have had youngers trying to break into my markets then give up because it's too time consuming or too tough. Yes, I am the "old man" in sweeping at the tender age of 60.

This leads into another point. You are a professional in the field of UFO research and writing. I don't know about how much you earn nor do I want to know. However, I would see this field as very difficult to be a true full time professional and make a living from UFO research and writing. The majority would be closer to hobbyist because they couldn't afford to do the proper research and field trips like you have.

So in the end, there are tens of thousands I believe who would like to study UFO's like you have but simply can't do it for financial reasons.

Daniel Transit said...

RRRGroup said...

But Kevin,, we oldies (geezers) are cob-webby, and one can see this by how UFO tales are regurgitated, not you so much in your recent incarnation as a revivalist using corrective material to illuminate old (and sometimes) new sightings.

But take a look at how the Socorro event was handled by those MUFON fellows you interviewed for one of your recent broadcasts. They went over the Zamora sighting, rehashing it using the moldy Stanford account.

A breath of Millennial air would cleanse the story (the 1964 incident) of its mildew.


I read Ray Stanford's book a long time back, when it came across to me as a straightforward account of what really occurred. Might've missed something here; but I can't see any very good reason to take the symbol so seriously; but ignore the claimed first analysis of the trace sample - zinc-iron alloy, not consistent with any known to be produced on earth. Presumably, it comes down to some people trusting Lonnie Zamora as a witness, but not trusting Ray Stanford, as far as the first version of the symbol goes.

Some influential people prefer to trust Lonnie Zamora, but not trust Ray Stanford.

Some influential people think Milton William Cooper can't be trusted, as if he never, ever did or said anything true or valuable in his entire life. Some sort of super-duper nonentity of absolute worthlessness (apparently).

Therefore we are ALL supposed to ASSUME that the extreme similarity between the 'Trilateral Insignia' he came out with and the second Socorro symbol CANNOT POSSIBLY be of any significance whatsoever. This is indicative of the partial, manipulated perspective that is causing 'Ufology' to never come up with any real worthwhile development.

And, apparently most people are too stupid to be able to think these sort of issues through for themselves, and realise the subjective limitations of what is being offered and promoted as self-evident truth.

Craig McDaniel said...

To Tom L.

I agree with much of what you suggest about a library. The problem I see is the same questions Kevin has been raising. Example, why wasn't Kevin and his UFO books rated in the top 100? Or the hardcore believers in MJ-12 and Som1-01 will want this material shown as real and highlighted when we have been discussing in this blog that it wasn't?

These difference of opinions on many subjects and topics in my mind get down to politics (Which is the best word I could think of at the moment.).

In short, I cannot see getting around the differences of opinions. Suggestions?

Craig McDaniel said...


I watched last night your MUFON speech on Leonard Stringfield. I learned much about Mr. Stringfield and maybe more about you and your integrity to the field of UFO research. I would suggest everyone to watch this 1:15 minute video then to evaluate this topic about the next generation of youngsters.

I have only one disagreement with you on a subject but this is for another day.

Otherwise, you did a great job in your speech presentation.

james tankersley said...

Kevin i know this is wild speculation on my part, but is it not possible there were other UFO crashes occurring in the New Mexico region after the first one that we just have not heard about because of understandable National Security reasons and that Jessie Marcel SR was kept out of the loop after the first incident so as to keep him quite? This would certainly help explain why so much eyewitness material testimony has gotten jumbled up into that one incident and why it is contradictory since a move was made by the Military authorities on July 9 to stop the press from talking about them any longer. also there is a memo supposedly written by Nathan Twinning describing what crashed saucer materials are made of that describes the Roswell wreckage perfectly and it would end the discussion about whether or not he knew about the Roswell New Mexico crash. many thanks for your input.........

tom livesey said...

Craig is right to point out the difficulties of agreeing a canon of books, I don't disagree. However I don't want to shy away from his question! Perhaps start small? 100 books is a lot to agree on. Start with 10. That way *everyone* has to think harder about what to exclude. That seems like good method. And clarify what you are asking for - books that are right or books that are historically important for the field. Strikes me that the latter is an easier place to start, since unambiguous truth is the one thing we are missing. Say one seeks a canon that describes the field historically, from scepticism to channelling, one question might then be what is the founding text of each branch, what is the classic of said branch, and which the most compelling. Interesting questions may result from those not being the same book. You might already usefully end up with three canons of 10, with secondary questions emerging. A framework begins to build. The key is that when it comes to a canon, your input question determines the usefulness and pattern of the output, which may in itself raise important questions to follow. So two suggestions: start small, and care more about our starting points than the endgame of who's right/who's wrong. When it comes to finding method in the madness and a legacy for the young, start drawing a map of how we got nowhere and see what the meta-questions might be behind that. Self-questioning seems to be the key to toning down the politics of any situation.